Debate grows over feds plan to only allow private companies to grow medical marijuana
Published Friday, February 22, 2013 4:52PM CST
Last Updated Saturday, February 23, 2013 12:32PM CST
Thousands of Canadians are currently allowed to grow medical marijuana in their homes, but those grow-ops will soon be illegal under a federal plan.
Ottawa said it will privatize the medical marijuana business.
Health Canada said about 26,000 people currently have licences to produce marijuana for medical purposes.
The federal government said the change to only allow private companies is being implemented for safety reasons.
Shelly Glover, Conservative MP for St. Boniface, said grow-ops can cause fires, mould and can attract criminals.
Glover said, as a police officer, she saw lots of home invasions where grow-ops were known to exist.
Greg is a Winnipegger who has a licence to grow medical marijuana for a spinal injury.
“Medical marijuana has done more for (me) pain wise than all of the other 15 prescription narcotics I’m on,” he said.
Greg only wanted his first name used for security reasons.
Opposition Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux from Winnipeg North said he worries that private businesses will charge more than the going rate to patients for medical marijuana.
“We have to recognize that these people are not rich in resources,” said Lamoureux.
Glover, however, said the government believes competition will drive the cost down.
“We expect with competition, like any other business, usually is good for reducing prices,” she said.
Health Canada, meanwhile, estimates the cost per gram will rise once the program is privatized from between $1.80 and $5 per gram now, up to almost $9 per gram.
Greg said he’s worried about the potential cost increase.
The changes in how medical marijuana are handled are slated to be in effect by April of 2014.
Health Canada will no longer be involved in the medical marijuana business.
Patients will have to get a medical document from a doctor saying they need marijuana for medical purposes, then they would place an order with a licenced business.